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Ring Leaders
June 2011 Print

Ben Feinberg, Interim Deputy Director for Science


Although officially retired, in May I agreed to help the ALS part-time in light of Bob Schoenlein’s new role helping to plan for a next generation light source at Berkeley Lab. As the ALS Interim Deputy Director for Science, I now have the opportunity to work with a different part of the ALS organization than I did previously: the ALS Scientific program. As many of you know, I have been with the ALS since its first day as an operating program, April 1, 1993. Over a 15-year period I have primarily played three roles: Head of (Division Deputy for) Operations, Deputy Division Director, and Division Deputy for Planning and Administration.

I am pleased to be working, once again, with the beamline scientists and the management of the Experimental Systems and Scientific Support Groups, and am happy to be working directly, for the first time, with the ALS User Services Group and with the many scientists who form our User Community. My primary goal is to help ensure that the research program at the ALS has the highest scientific impact, working with beamline scientists and user groups to achieve this goal.

In brief, this activity involves the work of many people – both within the ALS and from the two primary ALS scientific committees: the Proposal Study Panel (PSP) and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). The scientific vitality of the ALS is only maintained through the use of the peer review process of proposal evaluation and recommendations. I work with the User Services Office to organize external peer review and PSP evaluations of the ~300 new proposals that are submitted in each six month cycle, along with the Approved Program (AP) proposals. The PSP and the SAC meet twice each year, with the PSP focusing on General User (GU) and AP proposals, and the SAC providing important strategic advice and recommendations on the ALS scientific programs. Complementing GU access, I allocate Director’s Discretionary time to provide limited access to beamlines in order to initiate new research directions or for compelling experiments that warrant rapid access. Please see Bob Schoenlein’s Ring Leader column from June 2010 for further details on peer review at the ALS.

The SAC met this month, providing advice on the plans for beamline renewal – continuing the replacement of beamlines as part of our strategic plan. There was also a lively exchange of ideas regarding the microscopy review with strong interest in maintaining ALS leadership with soft x-ray spectromicroscopy. Among other items, the SAC received reports on our ongoing accelerator and beamline projects, and was pleased to hear from several beamline scientists on LDRD projects related to the Lab's Carbon Capture 2.0 initiative. The increasing need for computational support in data analysis due to the huge quantities of data generated by the newest, high-capacity detectors was also discussed.

My Research:

Since I am officially retired, I try to spend most of my time doing research. I am working with a research program to measure the Electric Dipole Moment of the electron. This program currently has a discovery LDRD, headed by David Kilcoyne, in collaboration with Harvey Gould, Charles Munger, and George Kalnins, along with Hiroshi Nishimura. We are presently developing the technology to make the experiment feasible. In the actual experiment we plan to launch cold (micro-Kelvin) radioactive francium atoms in an atomic fountain through a strong electric field and look for changes in the atomic state of the outer electron as we reverse the field. The experiment builds upon the strengths of LBNL, since we plan to make use of expertise with permanent magnet devices (to efficiently slow and trap the francium), accelerator optics (to focus the francium beam), cold atom traps, and project management to keep track of the various activities as the collaboration grows.


I welcome the user community to get in touch with me for any issues related to ALS access or the ALS Scientific Program. I also welcome your suggestions for improvement, since I am new to this position. The surest way to reach me is by email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). My work phone number is (510) 486-7725, and I pick up my messages regularly, but not every day.

May 2011 Print

Steve Rossi, Shutdown this Summer

The ALS is preparing for an extended shutdown that begins on June 13 and will extend until August 11 when user operations resume. This shutdown will be one of the busiest and most significant we have had since the Top-Off installation in 2008.

The most critical activity, and that which dictate the extended length of the shutdown, is an upgrade of the Storage Ring Radio Frequency (SRRF) system. This upgrade consists of three phases that will be completed over three years. In this first phase we will be installing and qualifying new klystron tubes as well as the associated infrastructure. When we return to operations we will be running on one of the new tubes. In future phases we will be permanently installing a second new klystron and a waveguide switch matrix that will provide for additional RF power for future machine upgrades as well as a robust back-up solution for reliable ALS operations.

Other installations planned for the shutdown period are also aimed at increasing the ALS's reliability, focusing on replacing aging power supplies for a number of our storage ring magnet families. Preparations will be made to enable the installation of our new multi-function sextupole magnets, scheduled for installation in the next shutdown. We will be modifying the storage ring in sector 6 and installing a new elliptically polarized undulator that will enable the simultaneous operation of our ultrafast beamlines 6.0.1 and 6.0.2. A full survey and alignment of the storage ring girders is also planned.

While not as exciting for our users as the technical upgrades, there are some important facility upgrades being made as well. The ALS dome will be getting a badly needed new roof and our low conductivity water plant is being upgraded to add 25% more flow capacity.

April 2011 Print

Jerry Kekos, Senior Business Manager


I am responsible for the Business Management (BM) group at the ALS. Additionally I am responsible for resource and division workforce management, and I oversee human resource activities within the division. My biggest challenge is managing the ALS budget.

I have the daily pleasure of working with some uniquely talented individuals, each of whom is dedicated to the success of the ALS. The BM group consists of the Administration, Finance, and Logistics Groups.




Members of the Administration Group (in paratheses below) are responsible for providing specialized administrative support to the Director’s Office, various scientific and operational groups, visitors and guests. The staff members and their responsibilities are the following:

  • Division Office (Joy Kono, Mayra Rivas) - Division Director, Deputy Division Director of Science, Deputy Division Director of Operations, Advisor for Science, Advisor for Operations, Business Manager
  • Accelerator Physics Group (Grace Covarrubias) - Group Leader  - (7) scientific staff, (2) visitors and postdocs
  • Experimental Systems Group (Jason Templer) - Group Leader, (28) scientific staff, (23) visitors and postdocs
  • Scientific Support Group (Adriana Reza) - Group Leader, (27) scientific staff, (26) visitors and postdocs, (9) postdoctoral fellows, (8) doctoral fellows

Biggest challenge(s) – Coordinating the daily activities of the ALS Management and managing numerous internal reviews that include the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) biannual meetings, Crosscutting Reviews, and DOE Basic Energy Sciences Reviews (BES).



Linda Griffin (Lead) and Melanesia Lewis are members of the busy Finance Group. They are responsible for transactional, accounting, and budgeting activities; internal and external financial reporting; timekeeping; proposals; and user agreements. Some of the numbers they deal with:

  • FY10 ALS Overall Budget - $67.9M, $63.1M DOE
  • Number of Accounts – Operations 640 effort, 330 non-effort , Equipment 160, AIP 60, LDRD 11, ARRA 60 (4 projects), WFO 15
  • Proprietary Accounts – 30+, 460+ shifts, Non-Proprietary Agreements – 200+

Biggest challenge(s) – Continuing Resolution. With the small size of the finance group it is hard to manage day-to-day financial activities of the ALS; bigger one-time events (e.g., calls for proposals) and long-term events (e.g., ARRA requirements) are extremely hard to manage. Aside from the ALS, three other divisions (Engineering, Facilities, and Accelerator Fusion Research) access ALS accounts, which also complicates financial management, coordination of projects, procurements, and the Lab's timekeeping process, LETS.



The Logistics Group comprises Gary Giangrasso (Lead), Todd Anderson, and Derrick Crofoot, and is responsible for warehousing activities (shipping, receiving, and storage), user support, procurements, stockroom, property management, inventories, and staging areas. They oversee the following, in support of ALS staff and users:

  • Property – Asset Value ~$166M, Assets # ~2K
  • Procurements – # of orders– 1,185 (FY10), avg. $ value $5K, range $200 to $1.5M many orders in the $125K range.
  • Storeroom – Inventory value - $185K, Item # –750 Items

Biggest challenge(s) – The Logistics Group operates like a work request center, handling various tasks and urgent requests for a substantial number of users, all with varied needs. Plus, the users ask a lot of questions! The ALS operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and since LBNL is not setup for 24-hour operations, the Logistics Group makes special arrangements to accommodate user and staff needs around the clock.

March 2011 Print

Alan Biocca, Control Systems Group Leader


The members of the Control Systems Group design, support, and maintain the control systems for the accelerator and many of the beamlines at the ALS. The Accelerator Controls Section is headed by Alan Biocca and Chris Timossi, and the Beamline Controls Section is led by Ed Domning and Brian Smith.

The Accelerator Control Section manages the system of  more than 500 computers and a dozen interconnecting networks that interface the many hundreds of magnet power supplies, current readouts, motors and encoders, vacuum pumps and gauges, temperature readouts, video cameras, and various instruments used to operate the machine and provide stable, high-quality light beams to users. These systems enable operators to run the accelerator from the control room over the network via tens of thousands of control and readout channels.

Rick Steele handles the insertion device controls; Eric Williams handles the fast feedback orbit stability control system plus many low level EPICS controls and interfaces to various instruments; Bob Gunion is migrating controls to programmable logic controllers, and handling Web and Database support; Carl Lionberger is handling various EPICS instrumentation upgrade projects; Susanna Jacobson works on power supply controls and operations support.

The Beamline Controls Section provides software and hardware support to more than 40 systems including beamlines and endstations. Paul Barale, Earl Cornell, and Yunian Lou work with Brian and Ed in this section to support these Lab-view systems.

The Controls Group also operates a number of ALS Web servers for documentation and for user and staff information on local servers and in the Amazon Cloud. Support for these servers is provided by the IT Division’s Unix Support group under Gary Jung.

Networking at the ALS is implemented by the LBNL Network Group under the direction of the Controls Group. PC and Unix/Linux support for the accelerator and many beamlines is coordinated through the Controls Group. PC support is provided by personnel from the IT division, including Craig Ikami and Cobber Lam. Jackie Scoggins and Susan James provide Unix/Linux support.

The current major projects of the Controls Group include upgrades to instrumentation and controls (see ALS feature), and to the sextupole magnets. The controls upgrade has been temporarily delayed due to funding constraints, but is expected to resume shortly, as replacement of the aging—more than 20 years old—equipment is essential to avoid major accelerator downtime.

The $8M, four year Instrumentation and Controls Upgrade will provide improvements in beam stability, beam instrumentation, controls reliability and higher feedback bandwidth while replacing the older equipment with more reliable new gear. The Sextupole Magnet Upgrade is progressing on schedule and should be completed in 2013. It will more than triple beam brightness for central bend and Superbend magnet beamlines, and reduce horizontal beam size by nearly one third.

Alan Biocca, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , x7700

February 2011 Print

Sue Bailey, User Services Group Leader


As head of User Services I am responsible for the ALS User Office, the Experiment Coordination Group and the ALS Communications Group. I am available to users to discuss information about the ALS; if I cannot answer your question myself, I can identify whom you need to talk to. Please drop by my room in the User Office suite, give me a call (at x7727), or send me an email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) if you have questions.

The ALS User Office handles all beam time proposals, registration and training of on-site users, the publications database, and user agreements (when needed). The User Office also works with the UEC and the Communications Group to organize the annual Users' Meeting (Save the date: October 3-5, 2011).

One update currently in the works is the ability to view your experiment safety sheet (ESS) online, and add and delete samples and experimenters. Our Experiment Coordination Group is currently testing the software, and we hope to roll this out in the next few weeks.

The software, database, and Web interface that provide services to our users are rather old and we hope to start updating them. Our aim will be to create a modern User Portal, where users could log in, update their information, view and update their training status, their current and previous proposals, safety sheets, publications, etc.  A number of users have been interviewed for our requirements analysis, and we will continue to consult users, mainly through the UEC.

The ALS Communications Group has had a very busy year. In addition to putting together ALSNews each month, they have designed and developed our new and improved Web site, which was rolled out last Fall. I encourage you to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For other events and projects, I encourage you to read details in ALSNews.

User Services staff have been working with ALS management to produce the report for the triennial review by the Basic Energy Sciences division of DOE’s Office of Science. Thanks to all for reporting publications, awards, and talks for inclusion in this review.


Sue Bailey, 510-486-7727, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Communications Group This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Proposals administration This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Guest registration and training This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Experiment coordination and safety documentation This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

January 2011 Print

Roger Falcone, ALS Director

Welcome Back!

I want to express my best wishes for all members of the ALS community and their families for a happy and productive new year. It will certainly be a challenging and busy time in Building 6 as we move forward with many new projects, including

  • the construction of  new beamlines (e.g., MAESTRO in sector 7);
  • improvements to the accelerator (a major controls system upgrade and the sextupole magnet project);
  • exciting new proposals to the funding agencies (e.g., energy research in Sector 8);
  • infrastructure improvements (new roof and HVAC controls);
  • a streamlined user processing system for proposals and other data.

The list of ALS renewal projects will only continue to grow in the coming years.

While we have received funding for most of these projects, we are also looking at a particularly uncertain budget climate in Washington. We have prepared contingencies, but I've learned to expect surprises. Our response to the ups and downs in funding has been not only to consider and plan for many scenarios, but also to proactively partner with others for support of our activities, including other Lab divisions, departments on the Berkeley campus, other national laboratories, and even private foundations. This allows us to broaden our resource base, and has the additional benefit of broadening our scientific vision.

As I write this note, we have just closed out a hugely successful workshop hosted by LBNL, "Biology with FELs: Toward the Molecular Movie." Long-time ALS user John Spence, from Arizona State University, put together a remarkable group of 150 scientists, including international leaders in biology and x-ray free electron laser (FEL) science and technology. The talks and discussions focused on what x-ray FELs are bringing, and could bring, to the field of imaging and to biology broadly. We heard about the recent success of nanocrystallography and single object imaging at the newly operating x-ray FEL source, LCLS, at SLAC. We also heard about light source properties and the related technologies needed for a next generation x-ray laser. Importantly, the results of this workshop will inform design considerations regarding a potential next generation light source x-ray FEL, under consideration at Berkeley Lab, as we expand our own capabilities and facilities for photon science.

I want to thank our users for communicating all of their excellent publications in preparation for our major review by the DOE in March. This triennial review focuses on our scientific productivity, and I'm very pleased by the response of our users and staff in helping to make sure we can tell the full story in this critical metric. Of course, our productivity was enabled by a great year for operations at the ALS (greater than 95% reliability of the beam), as well as an excellent safety culture and the traditionally helpful attitude of everyone on our skilled ALS staff. I especially want to thank those who selflessly helped out during the Lab's Open House, when we showed off the ALS to over 1200 visitors!

Finally, I consider the opening of our wonderful User Support Building to be a harbinger of the health and vitality of the ALS. Every time I walk through Building 15, or go to a seminar, or visit someone in the labs, offices, or cubicles there, I feel grateful for both the confidence of the DOE and the investment that the nation has made. Mostly, I am very proud of the people at the ALS, since it is in our staff and broader community for which the DOE has shown its support, and for whom its investment for the future is being made.

November 2010 Print

Paul Adams, Head of the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology

As a Deputy Division Director in the Physical Biosciences Division I lead the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB), which provides five macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamlines for a very broad user community. Two of the beamlines (8.2.1 and 8.2.2) are funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The other three beamlines (5.0.1, 5.0.2 and 5.0.3) are funded by a number of industrial and academic users, with a significant contribution from the National Institutes of Health. The sector 8.2 beamlines use one of the 5T superbend sources that provide x-rays in the 5-16keV range. The tunability of the x-rays is essential for many of the experiments performed by macromolecular crystallographers, and is one of the reasons that synchrotron sources have become so popular in this field.

The three sector 5.0 beamlines share a common 1.96T, 56 pole, 11.5cm period, permanent magnet wiggler source from which 5.0.2 accepts the central 1.5mrad of the emission fan and 5.0.1 and 5.0.3 each accept a 2.7mrad wide sidefan. The central beamline, 5.0.2, is a fully-tunable beamline with an energy range of 4-16keV. The two sidestations are monochromatic but have an x-ray energy that has been chosen to exploit the anomalous scattering of X-rays by many biologically important elements (in particular selenium).

Researchers use the BCSB beamlines to obtain very high-resolution images of biomolecules, such as enzymes, viruses, and DNA. The majority of the structures are important for improving human health, by designing better therapeutics or understanding how diseases occur. The crystallographic technique relies on growing very uniform crystals of purified biomolecules and then using diffraction methods to obtain the distribution of electrons in the crystal. This enables an atomic model to be constructed and interpreted.

Outside of the BCSB, I lead a research group that develops software for automated macromolecular crystallography: a program called Phenix used by researchers around the world to analyze the diffraction data collected at MX beamlines. I also have research projects, looking at protein folding and developing new biofuels, which use the BCSB beamlines to solve structures.

The BCSB consists of several beamline scientists (Simon Morton, Corie Ralston, and Peter Zwart), a software development group (led by John Taylor), and a number of technical and administrative staff. They maintain the beamlines so that they can be used by researchers from around the world, and they develop the beamlines’ capabilities.

In the last five years we have performed major upgrades of the sector 5.0 beamlines to increase x-ray flux by 10- to 30-fold. On sector 8.2 we have started an upgrade of beamline optics that will eventually result in a 10-fold increase in beam brightness, taking advantage of the ALS top-off and sextapole magnet upgrades.

All of the BCSB beamlines now have robotic hardware for the handling of crystals. This has made it possible to provide remote access to the beamlines so that many of the users now collect data from their home institutions instead of travelling to Berkeley. We also provide a Collaborative Crystallography Program, led by Banu Sankaran, where users send crystals for data collection and structure solution (see the ALSNews feature Solving Structures with Collaborative Crystallography to learn more about this program).

We are now looking at how to further develop the BCSB beamlines, focusing on the possible introduction of a super-cooled insertion device on sector 5.0 to provide a very high-brightness, low-divergence beam.

We are fortunate at the ALS to have a community of structural biology beamlines. There are three other macromolecular crystallography beamlines: 4.2.2, 8.3.1, and 12.3.1. The latter beamline is unique in providing both crystallography and small angle X-ray scattering techniques. There are also unique resources at the ALS for tomographic imaging of biological systems: the National Center for X-Ray Tomography, and the use of infrared spectroscopy at the Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology Program. Collectively, these structural biology resources are essential to research in the Physical Biosciences, Life Sciences, and Earth Sciences Divisions. In the near future I will be establishing a Biosciences Council to foster interactions between these groups and with the ALS.

October 2010 Print

Rick Bloemhard, Operations Group Leader

As the Operations Group Leader at the ALS, I supervise the Control Room Accelerator Operators, the Experiment Floor Operators, and the ALS Procedures Center. My deputies are Warren Byrne in the control room and John Pruyn for the Floor Operations Section. I consider myself very fortunate to have a highly diverse, talented, and dedicated team of people to carry out the important tasks associated with daily operation of the light source. There is a palpable sense of professional pride to provide the best machine reliability to users.

The control room is staffed 24 hours per day with one or two operators. Control Room Operators are the first contact point for ALS staff and users when any type of emergency occurs. They are trained in industrial First Aid and each of them is also a member of the ALS Building Emergency Team.

The Control Room Operators are faced with thousands of parts, many control systems, and control programs that they must understand and manipulate to produce the intense and steady beams of light at the ALS. It can take up to one year for new operators to qualify for a solo shift. One of the trickier aspects of an operator’s job is the art of troubleshooting the machine when things go awry. They must often balance a desire to fully understand problems (to prevent re-occurrences) against the users' need for a quick return of light. The Electronic Maintenance staff, whose shop is also manned 24 hours per day, often work with operators in these cases.

To help foster good communications between the beamline scientists and users on the experiment floor and the operators in the control room, the Operations Group has been experimenting with cross-training some people to serve as both Floor and Control Room Operators. This has been going well and we are achieving the intended results.

Floor Operators maintain control of the beamline radiation-shielding configuration. Because the ALS relies on administrative control of these very important personnel safety items, the Floor Operators must be intimately familiar with each beamline and its peculiarities. Floor Operators must stay attuned to all of the work occurring on each beamline, and make sure all shielding work is performed correctly and kept under control. If a beamline has been taken offline, Floor Operators will not re-enable its shutters unless all required steps have taken place and been documented. While the process may seem restrictive, its thoroughness helps maintain compliance with ALS and DOE procedural guidelines.

The Procedures Center is managed by Karen Nunez (who is backed by Tennessee Gock). She maintains more than 360 operational and maintenance procedures for ALS groups. These procedures are reviewed and updated as changes necessitate, and per scheduled periodic review. We are fortunate to have a detail-oriented staff who are committed to the Procedure Center's success.

The ALS operators are a knowledgeable and friendly group. If you would like to learn more about what we do, please feel free to stop by and chat with us in the control room.

Operations Group staff:

oeprations 1

operations 2

operations 3

L to R: John Pruyn (Floor Operations Section Leader), Michael Beaudrow (CR Accelerator Operator), and Matthew Abreu (FO). L to R: Angelic Pearson, Scott Stricklin, and Chit Hlaing (all CR Accelerator Operators). Kenneth Osborne (FO) and David Brothers (CR).


Operations Group staff not pictured: Haris Mahic, Karen Nunez, David Richardson, Davy Xu

ALSNews Vol. 314

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